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Prices Have Plunged on OC3 Bandwidth
Once considered the highest bandwidth level practical for business, OC3 is now considered a modest WAN speed and prices have been reduced accordingly.

If you are a user of high bandwidth fiber optic connections, you know that these line services don’t come cheap. Well, actually, they do come cheaper these days. But you have to know what to look for and where to look.

What is OC3 Bandwidth?
Optical Carrier level 3 is one of a family of fiber optic carrier services using the SONET (Synchronous Optic NETwork) protocol developed for the major telephone carriers and later offered to large business organizations. OC-3 is actually the lowest commonly available SONET service and runs a at a transmission speed of 155.52 Mbps. Of that, 148.608 Mbps is dedicated to payload, with 6.912 Mbps needed to support the overhead of transmission. 

Once Massive Bandwidth
Time was, just a few years ago, that OC3 was considered an enormous amount of bandwidth. It was only ordered by major Internet service providers, colocation hosting facilities, television distribution companies and other large corporations. Medium size companies got by with DS3 at 45 Mbps, roughly 1/3 the capacity of OC3. Smaller companies had their needs met by T1 lines running 1.5 Mbps. 

Gigabit Bandwidths Are The New High Speed Standards
Today, OC3 bandwidth is no longer consider as the ultimate business telecom service. Leading edge companies have moved on to Gigabit bandwidth levels and even 10 Gbps is not out of the question. Two factors have been driving that change. One is expansion of the carrier market with many new competitive carriers running their own fiber optic networks. The other is the demand for higher bandwidths by such needs as cloud computing services, HDTV video, CAD/CAM design and manufacturing, scientific supercomputer simulations, and electronic medical records transmission. 

How SONET Bandwidths Compare With Ethernet
While OC3 offers about 155 Mbps, the next level, OC12, offers 622 Mbps, OC48 steps that up to 2.5 Gbps and OC192 provides 10 Gbps performance. These are all SONET switched circuit TDM technologies. Their competitors are IP packet switched networks offering 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, 1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet and 10,000 Mbps 10GigE. 

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